Summary of Findings From Illinois Student Focus Groups and Teacher Interviews

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF A STATEWIDE PLAN FOR TEACHER RECRUITMENT, RETENTION, AND RECOGNITION REPORTThe annual number of unfilled teaching positions in Illinois has been steadily increasing since 2017. In 2019, the state published 1,859 unfilled teaching positions, primarily in the subject areas of special education, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), bilingual education, and elementary education. Also in 2019, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) partnered with the Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC) to begin to address the teacher shortage by planning to analyze shortage data and obtain feedback from students and teachers regarding factors that influence their career choices.

R9CC and ISBE collaboratively collected and analyzed teacher workforce data to identify barriers for recruiting and retaining an effective and diverse teacher workforce. R9CC and ISBE used the Teacher Shortage Tool from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders to identify equity and diversity gaps within the teacher pipeline and created problem statements that characterize the teacher shortage in Illinois.

R9CC conducted an extensive series of high school and college student focus groups and interviews with current and former teachers across the state to better understand the causes of these problem statements. R9CC analyzed the data and prepared this summary report to ISBE.

Click here to read R9CC’s summary of student focus groups and teacher interviews conducted in 2021.